A social club that has welcomed a host of sporting legends over the years is set to close its doors.
Phil Miller said he can longer afford to run The Stanley, on Stanley Street in Accrington, and has sold it to a developer to convert into flats.
Phil, 58, has run the club for the last 16 years but says it is impossible for businesses like his to compete with the big pub chains and city centre clubs.
He said: “I haven’t got a leaving date yet. It could be a few months, probably the end of May or maybe the beginning of June.
“It will rip my guts out leaving but I just can’t survive on what the business is making anymore.
“Society has changed. Kids today don’t want backstreet boozers, they want to drink at home and then go to city centre clubs.
“The smoking ban and supermarkets selling cheap booze has had an effect too. I would have loved for someone to take the business on but I haven’t had an offer in ten years.”
Regulars at the club, originally called the Dyers and Finishers Working Men’s Club, have rubbed shoulders with darts and pool champions including five times darts World Champion Eric Bristow and former World Darts Champion Bob Anderson.
Ten-time Women’s World Professional Darts Champion Trina Gulliver, Andy ‘the Viking’ Fordham, and 11-time world ladies pool champion Sue Thompson have also been frequent customers.
Phil, who lives next door to the club, said: “Eric Bristow came in after playing a darts friendly match in Nelson and I ended up having a curry with him afterwards. How many people can say they’ve done that with a five-time world champion?”
He added: “Once I organised 21 coaches to travel to Wembley to watch Burnley’s 2009 play-off against Sheffield United.
“One coach left without four of its passengers and I had to pay £400 to get them to London by taxi!”
The great-grandfather also travelled to Granada Studios in 2006 with pub regulars to watch The Price is Right.
He said: “It has been a great ride at this club, we’ve had so many fun times.
“It’ll be the end of an era going and my regulars say they think the world of me but I’m 58 now working 18 hour days and I won’t be able to retire on the money I get from here.
“If it was financially viable I wouldn’t be going. My girlfriend can’t even bring herself to come on my last night as she knows how heartbroken I’ll be.”